Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Heartline Women's Program Update

By J. McHoul
We are
currently running four different programs:
  • Pre-Natal Class - This class meets once a week with pregnant women to provide pre natal care.
  • Early Childhood Development Class - Once a woman gives birth this class provides education on caring for their new born and existing children. Each woman and her child can stay in this class for one year.
  • Literacy Class - This class meets three times a week to teach Creole reading and writing and lasts for about four months. It is a pre-requisite to our Sewing Class.
  • Sewing Class - This six month class teaches women how to sew and run a business.
Measuring Material Our first sewing class started on February 18, 2008 with fifteen women and seven graduated. The women who graduated have started to earn money from their sewing skills. Even those who did not complete the class have gained skills that are allowing them to earn some money. Three of the graduates have earned enough money to purchase their own sewing machines. In fact, one woman has made enough money that she has been able to bring her children back from the village so that they can live with her and have her raise them. Within a six month time frame she has earned about 6 years worth of wages (half of it going back to her business). None of the women that started the program were able to provide for their families before the class. Most of them worked as merchants buying and selling products, but unfortunately, most of the merchants end up in debt to those who provide them goods as they are unable to sell enough goods at a high enough price. This class has been a miracle for these ladies as they can now provide for their families in a positive and healthy way.

Classroom WorkWe are allowing the women who graduate from the sewing class the option to work at our facility several days during the week when our facility is not being used by other programs. We provide the material, machine and a safe place and then each woman gets to keep 50% of the sales proceeds from each item they make. We currently have an onsite store to sell the bags and other items made by the women. To date, we have sold over $6,000 of merchandise through the store. We have also recently obtained a contract to sew school uniforms for students at a local school. School uniforms are a mandatory part of school in Haiti, and even the poorest Haitian will sacrifice greatly to provide their child a uniform. As women earn enough money they will buy their own machines and be able to work out of their homes.

The current pre-natal class has 20 women. Lab work is done on each of the woman as they enter the program and monitored on a weekly basis. This lab work is critical to assessing the health status of each pregnancy. Of the current twenty women, four tested positive for HIV, three tested positive for STDs and all twenty showed that they were anemic. It is imperative that these situations are treated immediately to improve the health of the woman and the chance for a successful pregnancy. While we are able to treat most of the problems, we send the HIV positive women to other programs for treatment. Currently we are looking for a liaison to go with these ladies to this program as they are unaware of the need to take medication, ask questions about their disease and to be consistent with their treatment. Each week women in our program are given eggs, milk, vitamins and medicine to help them have a healthy pregnancy.

Early Childhood Development ClassThe early childhood development class has approximately 20 women and children at any time. This class is invaluable in getting the Haitian women the skill they need to raise a young child. During this time they interact one-on-one with American women who teach coping skills (malaria prevention, spending money wisely, importance of breastmilk, and child interaction). In addition to this education, they are given eggs, milk and vitamins for one year. Depending on what point in her pregnancy a woman enters the pre-natal class; almost two years are spent with each woman in close relationship.

Our literacy class is taught by a Haitian woman and has been successful in giving each woman the ability to read and write in their own language. It is very important that these women become literate if they are to provide for their families. Being literate gives a woman the ability to know truth about prices at the store, contracts they sign for their children to go to school, medicinal dosages as well as the Word of God. Learning to read and write also enables them to go through our sewing program. This class teaches 20 women at a time.

Overall, the women's program is now influencing the lives of up to 80 women at a time 20 of which have recently given birth to a child and 20 who are pregnant. All the women have families they are trying to care for. The impact these programs are having is truly remarkable. Without these programs, the women do not have any hope of gaining the skills necessary to care for their families. There are other programs in Haiti, but the number of women needing education and help far outnumbers the available programs.

How can you help the women's programs?

All of these programs require time and money. The sewing program is generating some revenue, but most of the revenue is going back to the women working in the program. Therefore, we are in need of sponsorships to put women through the program. The pre-natal and sewing classes are the most expensive to provide due to the medical and supply costs. We are looking for sponsors to provide $500 per woman in these programs. We are started our second sewing class on October 6, 2008. Our goal is to get 40 sponsorships in the next few months to provide for the needs during the next six months.

With these funds we are looking to continue what we have started. We are also looking to the future and have hopes to do the following:
  • Add a part time Haitian liaison to go with each HIV positive woman to the clinics to assist with their treatment program.
  • Add a fifth class for crocheting and embroidery for those women who are not able or willing to go through the sewing program.
  • Add a child care program for women going through the program. Many of the women have to leave their children alone at home in order to come to our classes. We would like to provide a safe alternative for these children.
  • Hire an additional sewing teacher to assist with the class.
  • Expand our store and obtain additional contracts for making uniforms and other items.

To become a sponsor or to make a donation to the women's program, please fill out a remittance form with the amount how you intend to donate the amount (monthly, quarterly, one time, etc.). You can send a check with the form or go to our website to pay by PayPal or by signing up for an automatic deduction from your bank account. If you plan to donate with PayPal or automatic deduction please email to indicate the total sponsorship amount you are donating to the women's program.

Thank you for encouraging us and for being the hands and feet of Jesus to the women of Haiti. ~tara